Yes, I know it's not Saturday yet but tomorrow I will no doubt being doing something horribly boring and mundane (as it should be, you all chime) and not lolling about watching vids or writing. Here's another large chunk of fic to tide you over the weekend. M7, part 6, rated MA for m/f (yes, you read that right) scenes of a sexual nature. Why is she doing this? Because she can. I told you she was based on some wicked people I've known.
Ezra tried his best to be churlish the next day, but Amanda knew how to tickle
pieces of information out of him. Over the course of a very late breakfast,
followed by an even later lunch she had managed to winkle the admission from
Ezra that he did indeed have feelings for Buck.
Amanda didn't really need to hear his confession, his glares and abruptness
had been enough to confirm everything that had been whispered about Ezra, and
more so. She just wanted to see him admit it, out loud, to her, to witness his
heated embarrassment, to see the vulnerability in his eyes as he entrusted his
most precious secret to her.
"Is he rich?" she pressed.
Ezra shook his head.
"So it is love, then."
She watched him wince.
"Ezra," she reached over their table, caressing his cheek and making
him look at her.
"Don't ever be ashamed of falling in love. Life is too short to live it
without joy. Is he good to you?"
She could see in his eyes that Buck was. She'd never seen Ezra this secretive
or protective of anyone before. Could it really be that Ezra had given his heart
away at last?
Fretting over his admission, Ezra was studying her intently, trying to guess
as to how she was going to use this information when he saw her eyes narrow
suddenly and a brief shake of her head at somebody behind him.
Ezra stood and turned, catching only a glimpse of the man retreating quickly
through the hotel doors. Just that fleeting glance was enough to trigger the
briefest flash of forgotten memory.
"Was that...?" Ezra murmured, dismissing the possibility before he
could form the question properly, thrown by that memory. "Amanda,"
he asked, beginning absently then growing more suspicious. "What's going
on? What are you up?"
"Nothing, Ezra," she flashed her smile at him. "I promised you
I'd be a good girl. I would never -" but she never had to make good on
her promise as Ezra fell to the floor shaking again.
Ezra wasn't in the saloon, lounging behind his usual table, nor was he in his
room. Conscience pricked, followed by a fast welling stream of rising jealousy,
Buck headed down the street, determined to find his missing friend.
Buck found Ezra at last, curled fast asleep on the chaise lounge in the foyer
of his hotel, his head nestled in Amanda's lap. She was stroking his hair tenderly
and Buck suddenly saw he wasn't the only person in the world who loved Ezra,
and strangely, he didn't mind sharing all that much.
She glanced up at his approach and gave a sweetly sad smile, pressing a finger
to her lips.
She kept stroking his hair softly, sadly.
"He had some sort of fit. It was terrible, I had to hold him down,"
she answered Buck's look of concern.
"We were up all night talking," she explained quietly by way of explanation
of where Ezra had vanished to.
Buck nodded. He supposed they had a lot of catching up to do.
"What happened to him?" She asked, tracing the rope burn that curved
up from under Ezra's chin to his ears ear like a wicked smile. "You never
mentioned this," she accused, her voice soft but her eyes hard, fiercely
"I didn't think it was my place to say. Did Ezra tell you?"
She shook her head.
Buck shifted on his feet nervously.
"It wasn't for anything he did that Ezra got hung. You see, Vin was wanted
for murder, sentenced to hang. Ezra contrived to get himself hung in Vin's place."
"Why? Did he love this Vin?"
"He imagined he did at the time, yes."
She nodded. So typical of Ezra. She smiled down at him. "He always did
have the soul of a poet, over fond of the grand gesture." She met Buck's
"Which one is Vin?"
"I'll introduce you later. It wasn't Vin's fault. He didn't have an inkling
what Ezra planned to do." Buck added, seeing that fierce protective streak
burn up in her eyes.
She saw the memory of it still bitter in Buck's eyes.
Buck drew up the matching footstool and sat down, defeated. "I thought
we'd lost him. He was poorly for a long time after. We thought he'd end up spending
the rest of his life as a simpleton. When he came back to us - I thought all
our prayers had been answered."
It hadn't been just the hanging. Weakened, Ezra had succumbed to a fever, and
they'd come very close to losing him. Nathan had long suspected the fever, not
the hanging, was the source of Ezra's problems.
"You've been looking after him?"
"Somebody has to."
They shared a smile over Ezra, sensing a common bond.
Ezra was resting in Buck's bed, the top buttons of his shirt were undone, the
blinds were down and Nathan was taking his pulse, listening to his heart and
examining his eyes.
"I'm sorry, Mr Wilmington. Looks like I am still in the unenviable position
of being a millstone around your neck," Ezra drawled as Nathan gently held
his wrist between his fingers.
"No such thing, Ezra," Buck remarked softly, leaning against the
wall. "I love you for better or worse, that's just the way it is."
Nathan felt Ezra's heart leap. He stared up at Buck as Ezra twisted his head
towards Buck on the pillow, frowning deeply.
"Don't play with me, Buck. Please, don't play with me."
"I'm not," Buck spoke softly, huskily, his eyes liquid. "You're
my friend and I love you. It ain't perfect, we ain't perfect, but I love the
way you make me happy when we're together, I love the way you make me laugh.
I love the way you feel against me. I love the quickness of your mind. I love
the good heart you try to keep hidden. I love the sound of your voice and the
softness of your skin. I love the colour of your eyes and the way you can be
so still at times, like a pool of water. I love you for the loyalty and friendship
you've given me, because I know it's not an easy thing for you. I want you to
know that you can trust me, and that I do care about you. Whatever's wrong with
you, it's wrong because you were willing to give up your life for a friend.
How can I hate you for that? What sort of a man would I be if I blamed you for
Ezra blinked away the tears, unable to speak or react as Buck pushed himself
off the wall.
"There now," Buck hushed. "You get some sleep and I'll see you
Buck drew the blinds closed, tucked the sheets up around Ezra, dropping a tender
kiss upon his brow. He shooed Nathan out onto the landing where Amanda was waiting,
closing the door of his room behind him.
"Will he be alright?" he asked of Nathan, his eyes asking Nathan
not to sugar coat it.
"I honestly don't know. It sounds like he had a seizure. I don't know
why but it's probably because of the hanging. He could get better or worse,
he could be sickening for something though I found no sign of fever. We have
to face the fact that Ezra might never be whole. He might never fully recover.
I don't know if he'll have another fit or not, but I'll make sure I'm ready
if he does. I'm real sorry, Buck."
"Damn," Buck hissed, angry, looking for something to hit but not
daring to take out his anger on Ezra's expensive Chinese vases.
Nathan grabbed his arm, trying to calm him down.
"He's alive, Buck. It's more than we ever dared to hope for."
"I hate to see him like this. Ezra doesn't deserve this. He ain't perfect,
but he's not a bad man."
"I know," Nathan admitted quietly.
"It's not your fault, Nathan. You saved him," Buck apologised.
Nathan looked pained. "For what?"
"For life." Amanda answered bluntly. "Ezra might be ill but
he's more happy in his heart than I've ever seen him." She met Nathan's
eyes. "Ezra has been lonely and unhappy all his life. You're all his family.
Don't you see that? He might be a liar and a thief but he'd die for you, any
of you, again, if he had to, without question." She shook her head. "You
didn't know that? What does Ezra have to do to prove himself worthy? Think of
that, Mr Jackson." Her eyes burned.
"Nothing," Nathan answered quietly. "He doesn't need to prove
himself to us, to me, not any more. I've been wrong, not to accept Ezra. He
apologised to me for his prejudices but I never forgave him. That was selfish
"Maybe Ezra needs to hear that."
Nathan nodded. He glanced at Buck again. "You really do care about him,
don't you?" Nathan couldn't hide the incredulity in his voice.
Buck shook his head, surprised at the turn his life had taken as well, still
shocked by the intensity of his feelings towards the young man who lay behind
the door he leant against.
"Yeah, I do," Buck answered, unable to hide the warmth in his voice.
"It's about time Ezra had someone to care about, other than himself,"
Nathan agreed. "Let him sleep, I'll see him in the morning." He left
Buck to keep watch over Ezra. Nathan's own mind was rolling over the revelations
he'd seen played out before him. Buck Wilmington had fallen in love at last,
and with the most unlikely of candidates.
THE LAST SEDUCTION OF BUCK WILMINGTON
Buck had sunk down on a chair outside his room, dozing, his long legs stretched
out in front of him, a sleeping guard dog.
The rustle of skirts snapped him awake by instinct.
"He's still sleeping, doctor's orders," he warned, standing up and
barring the door.
Amanda smiled prettily.
"My, such devotion to duty, or does he just pay you?"
Buck's eyes grew hard and she knew she'd walked onto dangerous ground.
"Ezra's lucky to have such a devoted friend in you, Mr Wilmington. Tell
me, how did you meet?" She linked her arm in his, drawing him away from
the door to Ezra's rooms.
"A while back. Chris hired him as an extra shootist for this job he had.
Ezra was very uppity and didn't go out of his way to be liked. In fact, I swear
he went around deliberately rubbing everyone up the wrong way. I would have
taken him aside and talked some sense to him then, but I had my hands full in
trying to make sure JD didn't get his damn fool head shot off."
"Just a kid, you'll see him about town. He's a good kid, but green as
all get out."
"So you took him under your wing."
"Somebody had to. Anyone could see JD wasn't going to last five minutes."
"You're a good man, Mr Wilmington."
"So now you look after Ezra."
"JD doesn't want or need my advice much these days, and Ezra, Ezra needs
somebody to give a damn about him."
"You?" She turned to face him, sizing him up in a way that made Buck
"Somebody had to," Buck repeated. "Ezra got himself messed up
pretty badly. He nearly died. Somebody had to save him."
Amanda smiled, amused. "And I'd heard you were quite the ladies man."
Buck stopped, confused. "It's been said."
"And now you love Ezra."
"What? Now wait a minute -"
"You don't need to hide with me, I know Ezra's tastes." She gave
him a very appraising stare which sent the heat rising up into his skin.
"I thought you mentioned Ezra having had his heart set on this Vin."
"He did, he probably always will." Buck answered her curious look.
"Vin is too busy holding a candle for Chris."
"Oh my. It is complicated, isn't it."
"Not really." Not if she'd seen Chris, really seen him, the way Buck
had, the way Vin did now.
She saw the memory warm his eyes for a moment. So, not quite the ladies man
as local legend would have it. She rested against her door, smiling at him.
"We seem to arrived at my room. I'd love to hear more about what my dear
friend Ezra has been up to these last few years. Won't you come in?"
Buck hesitated for a moment, but the lure of her perfume, the light in her
eye and the chance to discover something of Ezra's past, some insight from someone
else who'd been close to him, it was more than Buck could resist.
She caught his hand in hers and led him into her room, the fly willingly ensnared
by the spider.
Talking lead to drinking, and drinking led to Buck letting his guard down.
Chris had always said Buck's brain went south whenever beautiful women were
involved and this time was no different. He had tried, he truly had, but he
was careless and warm from her brandy and the soft casual, accidental brushes
of her skin against his became less accidental and less casual and before long
she had drawn him into her bed. She'd shed his clothing like a second skin and
kissed away the last cares he had. Buck was functioning solely on instinct,
his senses overwhelmed, and she caressed his thick dark hair as he tasted her
throat and breasts and throat and earlobes and then her mouth again like a man
Amanda rose up on the pillows as Buck left a trail of long languorous kisses
all the way down from her throat to he inside of her thigh, flicking his tongue
across the delicate skin. She arched up with a breaking sigh. Oh yes, Mr Wilmington
knew his way around a woman, and his reputation was well deserved. Why he was
with Ezra was a mystery she was curious to solve, but right now her mind was
on other matters. Oh yes, Mr Wilmington certainly knew his way around a woman.
Buck rolled back onto the pillows, sated and covered in sweat and her scent.
He knew it was cheating but it had been so long since he'd had a woman in his
bed. He missed the special smell and feel of them, and this one was better than
most, a perfect jewel, and she'd practically thrown herself at him. Buck just
wasn't a strong enough man to resist that sort of temptation. He regretted it,
but a man couldn't change his nature, not overnight.
She turned to face him, rubbing a hand across his chest possessively, tracing
out the scar slashed down across it.
"Somebody came close," she murmured.
"Too close," Buck agreed, voice twitchy, not wanting to dwell on
the memory. He watched her find the healed cuts on his arm. "Me and swords,
we don't get along too well," he tried to joke.
"I can see," she purred, winding a hand through his hair.
"Hey," he murmured as she kissed him again. He tried to study her
eyes but she was a mystery to him, hiding herself, the way Ezra used to.
Ezra. The thought of Ezra's eyes being closed off to him spiked through him
in a sharp twist of guilt, especially since he knew he would deserve the censure.
He wasn't quite sure how Ezra would weather this dalliance. Usually Ezra just
shrugged it off, but he'd been so irritable lately, as if the strain of staying
in one place too long and trying to be good was wearing him down, like a horse
too long in the harness. Ezra remembered his freedom and that's what Buck saw
in Amanda's eyes now: freedom. Free of care, free of responsibility, free of
the ties that bind. A part of him missed that callous disregard, that refusal
to let any one closer than arm's reach that had so intrigued him about Ezra.
Perhaps a part of him was panicking that Ezra actually needed him and relied
on him, much the way Ezra had spurned their first overtures of friendship, hissing
like a wild cat whenever anyone got to close.
"You think you've domesticated him," Amanda remarked, startling Buck.
She smiled, revealing in her smile that she could read him as easily as Ezra
"What makes Ezra stay in this little town, I wonder?"
"I don't rightly know," Buck answered honestly.
"He's changed. He wear's my Ezra's face, but he's a different man inside.
Did you change him?" The accusation was soft but sharp.
"No, Ma'am," Buck was quick to disagree. "You give me too much
credit. Life, life changed him. Friendship, people he could trust, some bad
times, some good." Buck rested himself on his elbow. "You've seen
the man he is now, I want to know what he was like then, when you knew him."
"Ezra?" She smiled as memories danced in her eyes. "He was such
a cocky young thing. Precocious, with the sort of shining pride only very young
boys on the cusp of manhood have, when they think the world belongs to them."
Buck grinned, he could remember his own misspent youth.
"We met at a garden party, I think, or some sort of merrymaking. I do
believe he was smitten. He introduced himself, so brash and young and handsome
and asked me to dance and I indulged him and the little bastard stole my earrings
while he held me close. So I paid him a visit to retrieve them."
Buck could well imagine. "You tried to steal them back, to teach him a
lesson against stealing from one of his own, didn't you."
"He was better than I gave him credit. We played tag for a week before
he managed to convince me to teach him what I knew, to further his trade. He
was so sweetly sincere, and I thought having a willing student would be fun."
"Oh yes, Ezra is a very quick study. He was a delight to tutor, a most
promising pupil. There was nowhere we couldn't go, nothing we couldn't do. We
were partners in...mischief," she smiled her cat like smile again.
"It wasn't my fault. I ran into somebody I'd known and Ezra was left holding
the bag. He escaped custody but I don't think he's ever forgiven me. He thinks
I betrayed him, or let him down, at the very least. He has such a brittle heart,
our dear Ezra. In our business, it doesn't do to let your guard down. Ezra isn't
used to caring for people other than himself and he wounds so easily when people
disappoint him. And they always do, Mr Wilmington."
She sat up, gathering the sheet around herself. "You must be very sure
of yourself, that Ezra won't mind your being here with me."
Buck reacted as if slapped, gathering up his hat, gun, boots all in a bundle
while trying to pull on his shirt and trousers. He shot her a furious look and
stalked out, reminded of his own complicity and weakness.
Amanda laughed softly to herself and fell back on her pillows. She knew now
why Ezra stayed in this little town. All six feet of blue-eyed, black haired,
tanned and muscular reasons to stay.
Buck was sitting with his friends for breakfast, playing with the trinket he'd
won the night before in a poker game. Buck turned the medal over in his hands.
JD saw it and asked: "St Jude?"
"The patron saint of lost causes," Josiah mused, knowing of whom
Buck was thinking, as always. a half smile on his lips.
"Couldn't hurt," Buck muttered quietly, slipping the medal away.
"You really that worried about Ezra?" JD asked, in between shovelling
mouthfuls of mashed potatoes into his face. "Seems to me Ezra's always
poorly these days," he shrugged.
"I don't want him to be poorly," Buck explained patiently. "I
want him to be just fine -" his gaze suddenly went straight over JD's head
and he stood up, pushing his seat back.
"Ma'am," he nodded, offering his chair.
JD glanced up at Amanda, admired her and grinned at the way Buck was also admiring
her. Some things never change. Buck was already sitting beside her and pouring
Josiah noticed too. Perhaps St Jude was working in his own mysterious ways.
"Ezra?" she asked.
"Still sleeping last I checked."
"Do you mind if I go up and see him?"
"I'd rather you didn't," Buck really didn't trust her. "Boy
needs his sleep."
"You know best," she agreed, though it could have also have been
a challenge. So protective, both of them, of Ezra.
She stood again, taking her leave, and Buck stood with her, always the gentleman.
"Walk with me?" she offered her arm.
"It'd be my pleasure," Buck returned her guarded smile, knowing he
had a weakness for a pretty face but powerless to do anything about it. At least
he'd be keeping her away from Ezra, he thought heroically.
Ezra watched them leave the hotel together, his empty stomach twisting. Ezra
didn't need to smell her perfume on Buck to know something had happened between
them. Ezra knew Buck all to well and he knew what that light in his eyes and
that bounce in his step meant. He saw the solicitous way Buck offered his arm
to squire her around town, the way Buck leant in close to murmur some amusing
line, the way they casually brushed together. Ezra knew these two people better
than he knew himself and he just knew. He gripped the edge of the saloon door
tightly as he watched them promenade openly down the opposite street, himself
hidden by shadows, lurking inside the saloon like a creature of the night. The
bitter spear of betrayal surprised him. He knew Buck's nature, and accepted
it, and he knew Amanda was never to be trusted, but to see them flaunt it, revel
in it, that boiled inside him.
He pushed himself away from the doorway, feeling like a slapped child. Of course
Buck would prefer Amanda's company to his. He slumped into his usual seat and
knocked his cane angrily away, furious that he'd had to resort to it today.
Inez hurried over with a glass of whisky, seeing his mood but saying nothing.
He drank it in one swallow and pulled out his pack of cards, but found no comfort
in them. His hand was shaking slightly and the more he willed it to stop the
worse it got. He threw down the deck in annoyance, grabbed his cane and began
to hobble upstairs, but stopped and turned back, unable to do anything but watch
Buck and Amanda walk down the street together, completely oblivious to his existence.
Buck paused in the window of the shop, admiring an engraved silver cigarette
"You're thinking it would make a nice present for Ezra."
"Yeah," Buck agreed. "He's been so unhappy - he hates feeling
dependent. Just when we thought he was back to his old self. I'd do anything
to cheer him up - he's not easy when he gets in these moods."
"So you want to buy him a present."
"Ezra likes nice things. Too rich for my blood, though." Buck sighed
and turned away.
"What if I bought it?" Amanda offered.
Buck shook his head. He wanted the gift to come from him or not at all.
"You're always thinking of him," she observed, and Buck wasn't sure
if he was being praised or chastised.
"He's my friend," Buck shrugged off his concern for Ezra. He glanced
up at the hotel, believing most likely Ezra was holed up there, sulking. These
fits were wearing on Buck and the rest of them almost as much as they were wearing
on Ezra. Especially Vin - if he could take Ezra's pain, Buck knew Vin would.
The guilt etched in Vin's face had aged him a little, his feelings for Ezra
still evident. It prickled Buck but he truly felt sorry for Vin. He'd hate to
have to carry the weight of what Ezra had done, knowing it could never be undone.
"Are you going to keep to your promise to show me your town or not, Mr
Wilmington," Amanda roused him from his brooding sharply.
He managed a smile for her benefit and offered his arm again, a quick glance
at the darkened saloon doors pricking his own conscience. Damn, he should have
known better than to let a woman like this get her claws into him. An old friend
of Ezra's and obviously not to be trusted. He knew she had him exactly where
she wanted him, though what her game was, he had little idea.
"Mr Wilmington," Amanda brushed his ear, sliding her arm through
his and falling into step. "You ran off last night."
"Didn't seem right."
"It seemed right before," she teased. "Tell me you didn't enjoy
it, because I know otherwise."
Buck almost blushed at her directness. "Now look here, anything we might
have shared..." He found he couldn't bring himself to meet her eyes. "It
was just for one night."
"Is that what you tell all your women, Mr Wilmington. What about Ezra?
How long is he for?"
"You leave Ezra out of this."
"Rather difficult, don't you think, Ezra being a dear friend we both have
Buck stopped and turned to face her. "What are you playing at? Do you
want to make Ezra jealous or to hurt him?"
"Neither, and I'm shocked that you would make such accusations, Mr Wilmington."
"So you just found yourself helpless to resist my charms, is that it?"
"Didn't you, Mr Wilmington?" She tossed it back to him. "Didn't
you find my charms just as alluring?"
Buck fumed for a second, then leant close, smiling his own shit-eating grin.
"If you're trying to recruit Ezra for whatever job you've got going, try
somewhere else. Ezra already has a job here, with us."
"Does he? You think he's so happy here, that he feels like he belongs
here so much he couldn't be tempted away, or driven away?"
"You think you could?" He challenged, but he saw it in her eyes.
Yes, she could. She reminded Buck uncomfortably of Maude, and the thought gave
"Don't," Buck pleaded. "I know what your game is now and don't
do this to him."
"I'm not doing anything, Mr Wilmington. If you think you deserve him you'll
be able to keep him. Just remember that men like Ezra, they don't like owing
anyone anything, or being bound to someone. Good day, Mr Wilmington," she
smiled and slipped her arm from his, crossing the road to greet an emerging
Ezra cheerfully, remarking on his improved colour and what a charming companion
Mr Wilmington had proven to be.
Ezra shot a sharp questioning glance at Buck, caught Buck's hesitation to meet
his eyes, and knew for certain. Ezra hid his reaction so smoothly Amanda wanted
to applaud his finesse, kissing his cheek tenderly and steering him down the
boarded walkway, away from Buck, watching as Ezra's mask slid effortlessly into
Ezra linked his arm with hers.
"There really isn't any honour among thieves," he murmured, smiling,
but his words had a winter's chill to them.
"Why, Ezra, whatever do you mean?'
"Well, unless I am mistaken, it is still considered poor form to court
your best friend's...paramour."
"Buck is not known for his resistance to temptation where the female form
is concerned. He is a slave to the siren's song, as you knew very well."
Amanda gave him an innocent look, as though she'd missed his meaning.
"Don't tempt him," Ezra fell to being blunt.
Amanda withdrew her arm from his.
"It's not my fault you don't trust Buck."
"I don't trust you. I don't mind if you let him fumble in your petticoats
but I've seen the way he's been looking at you. Don't break his heart."
"No, because that's your area of expertise, isn't it."
Ezra stopped, horrified. "I would never -"
"That's what they all say," Amanda snapped, walking off, leaving
Ezra standing alone in the street, shocked.